Just passed one of the tough holidays in our household. Valentine's Day. In terms of holidays, Thanksgiving is pretty easy. Christmas can be tough, but is fairly manageable. Halloween, by far, is the toughest.
Confused? Then you probably don't have a child with nut allergies. Any holiday with candy means my daughter and I have "the nut talk" one more time, an extra little reminder. It goes something like this:
Me: What do you say if someone gives you some candy?
Her: Maaaaa-maaaa (drawn out for emphasis), I'm playing kitties! (She goes back to attacking plastic dinos with stuffed cats.)
Me: C'mon, babe, let's practice. Here's a piece of candy.
Her: (big dramatic sigh) I say does this have nuts? I am allergic to nuts.
My daughter is 4. She's aware of her allergy. Unprompted, she asks waiters if things contain nuts. She's not afraid of it, but knows it is serious. I think that is the way it should be. I should know. I have them too. I'm a mom with nut allergies.
I know, you rarely meet an adult with nut allergies. Well, here I am. I know how it feels to have your throat start to close up, to have your tongue itch, lips swell. It's no barrel of monkeys, that's for sure.
It's been part of my life, and now it is part of our lives. I read all of the studies, the reports, the new data trying to figure out the whys and hows kids develop food allergies. Are they on the rise? Are they environmental or are moms making it up? We're 99 percent sure why my kid has them. She has them because I do. That is one thing that most reports do agree on -- allergies tend to be genetic and are often hereditary.
Yeah, believe me, it is already high on the list of things to feel mommy guilt about.
But when Tessa was diagnosed, it wasn't a shock to me. I've been dealing with it for so long, I know the rules of the road in Nut Allergy World. I see other moms, moms whose kids just got diagnosed, who haven't had to deal with food allergies, who all of a sudden are given an epi pen and think, "I have do to stab my child?" or who aren't used to constantly reading labels -- we are so lucky now, compared to when I was growing up.
Those moms have often asked me questions, come to me needing advice. The first thing I tell those moms? Don't think of it as something wrong with your child, that your child is sick. Sure, your child can get very, very sick due to the allergy, but she isn't a sick kid. She was, to quote Lady Gaga, born this way. Some kids might even grow out of food allergies. Some won't.
The sucky part is you don't know that, at least not right now. So what do you do? You talk about it with your child. And keep talking about it. Not in a "freak the child out" kind of way. Matter-of-factly. Whether your child is 8 months or 8 years old, supply the tools, teach the words, show your child how to take charge of the allergy. When you kid feels in control of the situation, it won't be scary.
What is scary? When Halloween rolls around and your daughter wants to be a princess ghost kitty. Anyone have ideas for that costume?
How do you deal with your child's food allergy?
Image via Jeeto!